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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mountain substitutability and peak load pricing of high alpine peaks as a management tool to reduce environmental damage: a contingent valuation study.

  • Author(s): Loomis, John B
  • Keske, Catherine M
  • et al.

High alpine peaks throughout the world are under increasing environmental pressure from hikers, trekkers, and climbers. Colorado's "Fourteeners", peaks with summits above 14,000 feet are no exception. Most of these peaks have no entrance fees, and reach ecological and social carrying capacity on weekends. This paper illustrates how a series of dichotomous choice contingent valuation questions can be used to evaluate substitutability between different alpine peaks and quantify the price responsiveness to an entrance fee. Using this approach, we find that peak load pricing would decrease use of popular Fourteeners in Colorado by 22%. This reduction is due almost entirely to substitution, rather than income effects. There is also price inelastic demand, as 60% of the hikers find no substitution for their specific Fourteener at the varying cost increases posed in the survey. The no substitute group has a mean net benefit of $294 per hiker, per trip, considerably higher than visitor net benefits in most recreational use studies.

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